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Environment Protection Act, 1986: It was the Bhopal Gas Tragedy which necessitated the Government of India to enact a comprehensive environmental legislation, including rules relating to storing, handling and use of hazardous waste. On the basis of these rules, the Indian Parliament enacted the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Environmental Protection Act, 1986
This is an umbrella legislation that consolidated the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981. Within this framework of the legislations, the government established Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) in order to prevent, control, and abate environmental pollution.
The Act is special for many reasons:
- It has the sole aim of ensuring the protection of the environment, the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution and provides the authority to take strict action against perpetrators.
- It is an Act that takes precedence over other Acts. This means that if an offence is committed that is liable to be booked under multiple legislation including this Act, the EPA 1986 will be given the highest priority.
- This Act forced the country to take note of environmental pollution in a serious way.
Some of the special features of this Act include:
- EP Act covers all forms of pollution; air, water, soil and noise.
- Provides the safe standards for the presence of various pollutants in the environment.
- Prohibits the use of hazardous material unless prior permission is taken from the Central Government.
- Allows the central government to assign authorities in various jurisdictions to carry out the laws of this Act.
Provisions of Penalties:
- The penalty for the contravention under this Act is imprisonment of 5 years, or fine of Rs. 1 lakh or both.
- Failure to comply with this punishment will result in a further penalty of 5000/- per day, followed by an extended imprisonment of 7 years.
- If the offence is committed by a company, the company as well as the director, officer in charge and any other relevant personnel is liable to be held guilty under this Act.
- If the offence is conducted by a government department, the HOD and any other relevant officer shall be held guilty. The HOD can be exempted if he/she can prove that the offence took place without their knowledge, or if they can prove that they did their utmost to prevent the offence.
- The section also states that a case/prosecution cannot be filed if the government entity or an officer of the government did actions under good faith.
Important legislation for environment protection:
- The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
- The Hazardous Waste Management Regulations, etc.
Other Laws Relating to Environment:
In addition, there are many other laws relating to environment, namely –
- Indian Forest Act, 1927
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002)
- The Forest Conservation Act, 1980
- Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
- Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
National Action Plan on Climate Change
The National Action Plan on Climate change (NAPCC) was formally launched on June 30th, 2008. The NAPCC identifies measures that promote development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively. There are eight “National Missions” which form the core of the National action plan. They focus on promoting understanding of climate change, adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency and natural resource conservation.”
The guiding principles of the plan are:
- Inclusive and sustainable development strategy to protect the poor.
- Qualitative change in the method through which the national growth objectives will be achieved i.e. by enhancing ecological sustainability leading to further mitigation.
- Cost effective strategies for end use demand side management.
- Deployment of appropriate technologies for extensive and accelerated adaptation, and mitigation of greenhouse gases.
- Innovative market, regulatory and voluntary mechanisms to promote Sustainable Development.
- Implementation through linkages with civil society, local governments and public-private partnerships.
- International cooperation, transfer of technology and funding.
The eight missions of NAPCC are:
- National Solar Mission
- National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
- National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
- National Water Mission
- National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
- National Mission for a Green India
- National Mission fro Sustainable Agriculture
- National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
National Solar Mission: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes: Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments; a goal of increasing production of photo-voltaic to 1000 MW/year; and a goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation.
Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research centre, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends: Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates; Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for: Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code; A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste; Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and Incentives for the use of public transportation.
National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourages private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.
Other ongoing initiatives by NAPCC
Power Generation: The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and super critical technologies.
Renewable Energy: Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.
Energy Efficiency: Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labeling program for appliances has been introduced.
International Agreements/ efforts – Climate Change Accords
Various climate change accords that were and are in existence are covered here.
Montreal Protocol, 1987
The Montreal Protocol is widely considered as the most successful environment protection agreement. The Protocol sets out a mandatory timetable for the phase out of ozone depleting substances. This timetable has been reviewed regularly, with phase out dates accelerated in accordance with scientific understanding and technological advances.
The Montreal Protocol sets binding progressive phase out obligations for developed and developing countries for all the major ozone depleting substances, including Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and less damaging transitional chemicals such as and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
Kigali Amendment: The agreement refers to the Hydroflurocarbon (HFC) Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, agreed to at the 28th Meeting of Parties at Kigali, Rwanda on 15 October 2016. Nearly 200 countries struck this landmark deal to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), in a move that could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is legally binding and will come into force from January 1, 2019
The Kyoto Protocol is an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It came into force on 16th February 2005. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for industrialized countries for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The greenhouse gases include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (NO), Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), also known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty. The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
In other words, its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is often seen as the key document regarding sustainable development. The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. CBD has two supplementary agreements – Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
Cartagena Protocol: The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
Nagoya Protocol: The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Nagoya Protocol on ABS was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
Its objective is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. By helping to ensure benefit-sharing, the Nagoya Protocol creates incentives to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources, and therefore enhances the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being. India signed this protocol in 2010.
Cancun Agreements – 2010
The Cancun Agreements are a set of significant decisions by the international community to address the long-term challenge of climate change collectively and comprehensively over time and to take concrete action now to speed up the global response.
The agreements, reached on December 11 in Cancun, Mexico, at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference represent key steps forward in capturing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures. (UNFCC).
Durban Climate Change Conference – November/December 2011
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, delivered a breakthrough on the international community’s response to climate change. In the second largest meeting of its kind, the negotiations advanced, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, and the Cancun Agreements. (United Nations framework for Climate Change)
Rio Submit (Earth Summit)
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit, was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June in 1992.
Earth Summit was created as a response for Member States to cooperate together internationally on development issues after the Cold War. Due to issues relating to sustainability being too big for individual member states to handle, Earth Summit was held as a platform for other Member States to collaborate.
Since the creation, many others in the field of sustainability show a similar development to the issues discussed in these conferences, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was also held in Rio and is also commonly called Rio+20 or Rio Earth Summit 2012. It was held from 13 to 22 June.
At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. The agreement is due to enter into force in 2020.
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework.
International Solar Alliance (ISA)
International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a coalition of solar resource rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn to specifically address energy needs by harnessing solar energy. The Alliance aims to provide a platform for prospective member countries to collaborate and address the identified gaps through a common agreed approach.
ISA has been envisioned as a dedicated platform that aims to contribute towards the common goal of increasing utilization and promote solar energy and solar applications in the prospective member countries to help the world transform to a low-carbon and greener society.
ISA was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on 30th November 2015 by Mr. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and Mr. François Hollande former President of France, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the then Secretary General of the United Nations.
For details: International Solar Alliance (ISA)
India’s contribution to ISA
The Government of India will contribute US $ 27 million to the ISA for creating corpus, building infrastructure and towards recurring expenditure over a 5 year duration from 2016-17 to 2020-21. An initial donation of US $ 16 million has already been made. In addition, public sector undertakings of the Government of India namely Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) have made contributions of US $ 1 million each for creating the ISA corpus fund.
In addition, the Government of India has offered training support for prospective ISA member countries at the National Institute of Solar Energy. They have also offered to support the prospective ISA member countries by organising demonstration on projects like solar home lighting, solar pumps for farmers and for other solar applications.
The Government of India has dedicated 5 acres (over 20,000 Sq. meters) of land in the National Institute of Solar Energy campus for the construction ISA Headquarters. Proposal for allocating additional 5 acres of land is also under consideration.
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